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John Kahane
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Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #212

And to start the week off, another issue of the Legion of Super-Heroes re-read...





Superboy starring The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #212
October, 1975
"Last Fight For A Legionnaire"
Writer: Jim Shooter
Penciller: Mike Grell
Inker: Mike Grell
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Ucredited
Cover: Mike Grell (signed)
Editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:
Phantom Girl, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Shrinking Violet, Matter-Eater Lad (resigns to enter public service), Superboy, Karate Kid (cameo).

On a bright, sunny Metropolis morning, potential Legionnaire Magno Lad arrives at Legion Headquarters but is quickly rejected for membership because he is from Braal, the same home planet as Cosmic Boy. Losing his temper, Magno Lad nearly destroys the statue of Ferro Lad in Nolan Squre, but is prevented from doing so by another person, Esper Lass. She and five other Legion rejects, all from the same worlds as six of the Legionnaires, want to “put the whammy” on six very specific Legionnaires. Elsewhere, a Tribune Judge sends Agent Bek to Earth to pick up a Legionnaire "by any means necessary,” as no one is above the law. Back on Earth, six Legionnaires arrive in the LSH headquarters lobby, thinking that they have been telepathically called by Saturn Girl. However, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Shrinking Violet, Phantom Girl and Matter-Eater Lad discover that it wasn’t her, it was Esper Lass. The six Legion rejects challenge the Legionnaires for the right to represent their home planets, and even though the Legionnaires don't want to fight, the rejects don't give them any choice. Magno Lad is a former Braalian Olympian champion, Kort Grezz, and much stronger than Cosmic Boy. Esper Lass, Meta Ulnoor, from Titan blasts Saturn Girl. Phantom Lad, Solon Darga, from Bgtzl beats up on Phantom Girl. Lalo Muldron, Micro Lad, from Imsk fights Shrinking Violet and takes her down. Toog Lintens, Chameleon Kid from Durla, battles Chameleon Boy and is much stronger than he is. Finally, Taryn Loy, Calorie Queen from Bismoll, is the daughter of a brilliant scientist who helped her divert some of her excessive energy to her muscles, making her three times as strong as a normal person - making her stronger than Matter-Eater Lad. Superboy bursts in on the Legion rejects in the middle of their victory chat, and literally throws the rejects out of the building. However, the six Legionnaires are angry that he interfered. Following the rejects out of the building, they apologize to the rejects and schedule a re-match for the next day. Elsewhere, at Metropolis Spaceport, Agent Bek is met by the President of Earth, who does not approve of his mission. However, Agent Bek insists he has no choice in the matter, and that by this time the next day, there will be one less Legionnaire.

The next day the six rejects arrive at Legion headquarters and Nolan Plaza. When the fighting begins, it seems as if Matter-Eater Lad is a coward, running away. However he goes to use his power and eats the Legion flagpole, dropping it on Calorie Queen and thereby capturing her. Magno Lad attempts to magnetically throw a metal monument at Cosmic Boy, but the monument is really Chameleon Boy, who takes him out. Cosmic Boy in turn takes out Esper Lass, twirling her into unconsciousness via the iron in her blood. Phantom Girl and Shrinking Violet switch their opponents, knocking out both Micro Lad and Phantom Lad. Lastly, Saturn Girl points out the real Chameleon Kid as Matter-Eater Lad is about to take a bite out of him. With the six Legion rejects defeated, the Legionnaires announce that the real reason they are the right people to represent their planets is because they depend on teamwork. The rejects walk away, rejected again. At that moment, Agent Bek arrives with a draft notice for Matter-Eater Lad. He’s been drafted by the Selective Services Board to become a candidate for political office! Although he is happy to be a Legionnaire, M-E Lad/Tenzil Kem decides to go along with the Tribunal order, so quits to go into politics. As he walks away, he recommends Calorie Queen take his place in the Legion.

Commentary:
What a strange little story this is. Given that many of the worlds that are home to the Legionnaires have others who share their same powers, it’s always been a question of why other people from their homeworlds haven’t tried to get into the Legion before, displacing the Legionnaires already present. The “right” to represent their home planets was a pretty good plot premise, but the fight that one expects in the story never really materializes. In the first instance, Superboy shows up to literally toss the rejects out of Legion HQ; in the second instance, the Legionnaires prove why they’ve earned the right to be there representing their planets, and show the rejects the real raison d’être of Legion success - teamwork. That is definitely the motto and the moral of the story, to be sure. However, this is also a Legion tale that took almost ten years to tell. In the Adult Legion story from Adventure Comics Vol 1 #354, we learn that Matter-Eater Lad quit the Legion to enter politics on his home planet. Now granted he’s not appeared in action in a Legion tale since Superboy Vol 1 #184, but I thought the way this was handled here was quite appropriate for the character. I’ve heard that neither Jim Shooter nor Cary Bates careed much for the character, but I do have to wonder that it’s a miracle he remained in the LSH as long as he did. I’ll admit to being somewhat surprised that he fought for his place in the Legion against Calorie Queen. His graciousness in asking if she could take his place after he was drafted by Agent Bek was typical of Tenzil Kem, and part of me wishes she’d been accepted as a member, since her powers were a bit more interesting than his and she seemed a bit more feisty as well. Some story notes... Light Lass and Timber Wolf are on the cover and on the splash page, but do not appear in the story. Karate Kid appears at the beginning of the rematch, acting as a type of judge, but then disappears. In fact, after Matter-Eater Lad is met by Agent Bek, the majority of the Legionnaires disappear. Although Matter-Eater Lad suggests Calorie Queen take his place in the Legion, and she is actually stronger than he is, she does not. In fact, she does not appear again for more than twelve years. Magno Lad, Esper Less and Micro Lad end up joining the Legion of Super-Villains. Micro Lad will be instrumental in a series of events that will change the life of Shrinking Violet down the road. Matter-Eater Lad leaves the Legion with this story.


And the second story of the issue…

"A Death Stroke At Dawn"
Writer: Jim Shooter
Penciller: Mike Grell
Inker: Mike Grell
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Uncredited
Cover: na
Editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:
Shadow Lass, Cosmic Boy.

Featuring:
Night Girl of the Legion of Substitute Heroes.

As Shadow Lass flies via Legion flight ring through night-shrouded Metropolis towards the Legion Headquarters, she sees light coming from a deserted monorail station and decides to investigate. She is surprised to see Night Girl being held at pistol point by a gang of crooks led by “Crafty” Colson. Realizing that Night Girl is powerless in the bright light of the station, Shadow Lass blankets it in darkness allowing Night Girl’s super-strength to kick in. The two super-heroines put up a good fight, but Gunner, who comes from the deep caves of Ankar where they’ve developed radar sight, fires at the two and Night Girl takes the ray blast meant for Shadow Lass. The gang escapes. Colson thinks they have killed Night Girl and is concerned that Cosmic Boy will come after them. The gang leader decides to be pre-emptive, and says they go hunting after Cosmic Boy first. Needless to say, Night Girl is still alive. She tells Shadow Lass her story of how on her home planet of Kathoon her father created a super-strength revitalizing ray for her. However, her strength and energy is only effective in darkness, like the sunless Kathoon. She also tells Shadow Lass of her love for Cosmic Boy, but how they’ve recently broken up because he didn’t want her risking her life so often. Still, she’s not giving up. With only an hour until sunrise, Night Girl goes after Colson and his gang using a miniature mento-tracer to home in on him. Meanwhile, Cosmic Boy is on a date with another girl, Sinde, whom he keeps calling Lydda, and thus realizes that he does love Night Girl. As soon as he drops Sinde off at home, he’s ambushed by Colson and his gang. They are armed with non-metallic weapons. It doesn’t look good for Cosmic Boy until Night Girl arrives, striking those holding him just as the sun comes out, leaving her powerless. Cosmic Boy captures the crooks, telling Colson that he’s not going to hurt the girl he loves. After the crooks are dealt with, Cosmic Boy takes Night Girl to a medi-center for treatment, and then for a picnic in daylight, of course, where she’ll be powerless to resist him.

Commentary:
This is probably one of my favourite, and one of the best, romantic Legion stories written. The story focuses at first on the Shadow Lass/Night Girl team-up, one of the definitely “made for each other” super-heroine team-ups if ever there was one, and the two work well together and complement each other quite nicely. While we get the origin story of Night Girl once more here, it’s not invasive to the story, and it sets the stage for the return of Cosmic Boy to Lydda’s affections here, and his love for her. He is not only concerned about his girlfriend but is somewhat jealous of her powers, as his “Who do you think you are, Supergirl?” moment is a classic and cuts Lydda to the quick. That said, Night Girl’s determination against the odds is the true meaning of heroism in the story, and her willingness to sacrifice herself for both Shadow Lass and then Cosmic Boy says something in and of itself. I definitely hope to see more pairings of Night Girl and Shadow Lass, but... Night Girl's skimpy “costume” designed by Mike Grell makes its debut in this issue. And can it be a coincidence that both Calorie Queen (in the lead story) and Night Girl got their powers from their scientist fathers? Hmm...
Tags: comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion reread, lll, lsh
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